Now available: an alternate time for my live online chats

I am thrilled to offer a second opportunity for online students to participate in my biweekly live online chats. I now offer a Tuesday 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) chat, in addition to the 7:00 p.m. ET chat that’s been going on for years.

Here’s a little taste of this afternoon’s exchange:

Student A: I have a question about the Foundation class (editors’s note: “Foundations and Origins” is the first Practices class). When you asked us to place the attention on the chest in the inhale and on the belly on the exhale, my breath turned automatically to ujayyi. Is that what you wanted us to do? I don’t think I have a “ujayyi-always pattern” but with this exercise even if I tried to come to a neutral breathing it will go again to ujayyi.

Student B: Anytime I slow my breath it seems to be ujayyi!

Leslie: Ujayyi is really helpful when it’s needed to slow down and stabilize the breath.…It’s also something that many people tend to over-do, even when it’s not needed.…We like to be in control, and we use the breathing to accomplish that.
When we get away from the idea that there’s a “right” way to do these practices, and simply use them as a way to experiment, it really frees us up.
If you simply ask a student to slow down their breathing so that it matches a slow movement of the body, they will discover ujayyi naturally.

Student C: Why is it that we can breathe longer when we go from top to bottom?

Leslie: To make the belly move first, you need to restrain the ribcage, which means you have to figure out how to release it for the rest of the bottom-to-top breath.
When you start at the top, you are only releasing the ribcage – not restraining, and then releasing.…

I usually don’t teach ujayyi. I let people find it on their own, then get them to notice what they are doing.

If you’re already an online student, please join us for the next live chat, Tuesday January 28, 2014 at 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. ET. If you’re not and would like to join us, you can sign up at YogaAnatomy.net.

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The Breath in the Pelvis

Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy
& Tom Myers Anatomy Trains®

present a weekend workshop
December 15-16, 2012 | 9am-5pm

The Feldenkrais Institute 134 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001
For more information contact Edya by email or phone 646-416-4270

Join anatomy and movement pioneers and best-selling authors Tom Myers and Leslie Kaminoff as they co-present an amazing exploration of the core structures of the body, incorporating lecture, movement and video presentations. Not just for hands-on practitioners, this workshop will be invaluable for anyone who wants to experience more freedom of expression, movement and sensation.

Breathing is a whole-body movement that can integrate structural and physiological responses throughout our whole selves. This workshop will help you explore the breath response in your pelvis, expanding both your own felt sense and your ability to see and work with others.

WORKSHOP TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • the ‘neutral’ pelvis and pelvic support
  • pelvic joints and their response in posture, breathing and birthing
  • the role of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles in the breath
  • pressure systems and pelvic adhesions in the viscera
  • the role of the ‘psoas complex’ in setting the stage for a whole-body breath

Painting/Design: lydiamann.com

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The Enlightenment of the Dumpster

This is one of my favorite stories, and it will be a central chapter in the new book I’m writing.
It’s from the time I was a young swami serving as director of the Los Angeles Sivananda Yoga Community in 1981.  The photo below is of the building that housed the community in the early 80’s.  The Liquor Locker is on the left, and you can make out its green dumpster just below the windows of what was our main yoga and meditation room.  The road in front is Sunset Boulevard.  For those of you familiar with L.A., the cross street is Selma, one block west of Laurel Canyon, and slightly east of Chateau Marmont.

One of the first tasks I had when I came on as director was to supervise the construction of the sign pictured below, which covered the chimney and window on the right side of the building.  It was our way of getting some visibility on Sunset Boulevard for the community and Swami Vishnu’s best-selling book.

Below is a photo from Dec. 2012, when I re-visited the site of the old Yoga Community.  It’s easy to see how close the windows of our meditation room were to the dumpster.

Dumpster 2012
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Did Yoga really start as a sex cult?

In this video follow-up to my previous post “William Broad is at it again at the NY Times,” you can hear me tell Mr. Broad that every time he opens his mouth, he loses another piece of whatever credibility he may have had as an authority on Yoga.

In the end, I just tell him to shut his mouth until such time as he’s willing to do a modicum of valid research into the actual history of Yoga practice – which did NOT begin with the Tantric sex cults of Medieval India. He actually contradicts himself in the space of two sentences in his interview with Stephen Colbert, when he first asserts that Yoga is 4 to 5 thousand years old, then follows up with “…real yoga started out in a sex cult..”

Someone with as big a platform as William J. Broad has an equally big responsibility to speak accurately about this subject.  In this, he has repeatedly and utterly failed.

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Video Review of "The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards," by William J. Broad and a defense of my friend Larry Payne

In this video review, I accuse William J. Broad of launching an ad hominem attack on my friend Larry Payne.  Realizing this may need further explanation, I offer the following:

“Ad Hominem” literally means “against the man.” It is the name of an often-employed logical fallacy that seeks to refute a person’s ideas by discrediting their character.  For example, “Mr. Smith is known to be a drunkard, therefore his views on the economy should be dismissed.”

As I mentioned in the video, as a longtime friend of Larry Payne and teacher of the anatomy section of his LMU course each year in Los Angeles, I am hardly a neutral observer regarding Larry. This does not reduce my ability to offer objective criticism of Broad’s tactics in this part of his book.

On page 154 of “The Science of Yoga,” Broad lays the cornerstone of his attack: “If the origins of the modern field [yoga therapy] can be traced to a single person, it would be Larry Payne.”  Here, Broad is preparing a case of guilt by association in which he will try to discredit the entire field of “modern yoga therapy” by assaulting the character of the person he is identifying as its key founder. He will go on to portray Larry as an opportunistic huckster who, unlike Loren Fishman, M.D., one of Broad’s heroes, took what he considers an easy path to credibility by obtaining a Ph.D. from a questionable school. Broad goes on to point out some commonly-held physiological errors that ended up in Larry’s book “Yoga for Dummies” as a way of further discrediting him.

Broad’s clear goal in the chapter in question (chapter five for those following along) is to cast aspersions on the organization Larry helped to found, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), by drawing a parallel between what he perceives as Larry’s lack of a valid credential and the certificate one obtains upon joining IAYT. Broad observes that the IAYT membership certificate resembles a professional accreditation, but “a quick read shows that the document is in fact quite meaningless…The phony credential does an injustice to the talented yoga therapists who have labored for years and decades to develop their healing expertise and have helped countless people.”

This is a classic example of an ad hominem attack, setting up guilt by association. Forget the fact that Larry Payne is also one of the “talented yoga therapists who have labored for years and decades to develop their healing expertise and have helped countless people.”  Forget the fact that IAYT has never represented their membership certificate as anything other than what it clearly states on its face.  Forget the fact that never – to my knowledge – has any yoga therapist, whether a member of IAYT or not, expressed outrage over misrepresentation via a “phony credential.” Forget the fact that there is a real, live human being named Larry Payne at the other end of this attack who has been walking around for the past week feeling like he’s been simultaneously kicked in the gut and stabbed in the back by the writer to whom he granted – in good faith – full access and lengthy interviews.

William J. Broad makes a strong case for accurately representing oneself in the professional sphere.  Did he do that when he approached my friend Larry for the purpose of writing an authoritative book about the field in which he has faithfully labored for four decades?  I’m sure Larry Payne, Ph.D. welcomed Mr. Broad with the same open heart he offers to everyone he encounters.  He deserves far better than what he got in “The Science of Yoga.”

 

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Egg On My Neck, part 2 of My 2 Cents about ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’

Last week’s video got quite a lot of attention on YouTube – over 12,500 views as of this writing.  This week’s follow-up includes an apology to William J. Broad, the author of the NYT article and the book “The Science of Yoga”, which was sent to me by the publishers this week.

In last week’s video, I had taken Broad to task for under-reporting the “normal” range of motion of the cervical spine in axial rotation as 50º. In fact, that is the same number I give in the 2nd edition of Yoga Anatomy! Oops. Egg on my “neck”.

In retrospect, I believe I used outdated numbers in the book and I’m in the process of researching how to revise that page (34). Here’s one of the research articles I’m referencing that gives a good overview of just how variable these range of motion (ROM) measurements can be. For example, compare the lowest ROM—for a male in his nineties—at 26º. The greatest ROM was a teenage female with a whopping 94º! So, what’s normal?

I’m about halfway through Broad’s book now, and I’m pleased to report that it’s a great read. I will have a full review when I’m done but even at this point I can safely say I’m going to recommend every serious student of yoga read it.

 

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My 2 Cents about "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body"

As I say at the end of this video response to the New York Times article, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” I’m too lazy, too dyslexic and too slow a typist to write out my opinion. Instead I was able to tape this piece at the end of my Yoga Anatomy class last Wednesday night.  In it, I reference my friend Eddie Stern’s marvelous blog piece “How the NYT Can Wreck Yoga,” with great comments by Marshall Hagins, P.T. and Rick Bartz, D.C.  I highly recommend reading it.

I’ll probably have more to say once the book is released next month and I’ve had a chance to read it. As always, your comments are welcome.

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